Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez: Feminist Critique of Love
A Feminist Critique of Love In The Time of Cholera
Thesis: Throughout Love In The Time of Cholera, a feminist plot reveals itself through Florentino’s pursuit of Fermina, the emphasis of female sexual virginity, and Florentino abuse of América.
In recent years, attention has been drawn to the fact that, despite being the subjects of many works of art, female artists themselves are underrepresented in museums such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Indeed, the plight of women doomed to be chased after without their active consent is illustrated in Love In The Time of Cholera. The plot of the book, after all, centers around Florentino Ariza’s lifelong pursuit of his “crowned goddess”, Fermina Daza (Márquez 88). Fermina’s well-illustrated life story is of meaning only in relation to Florentino’s chase of her. Despite marrying and producing children with another man, Fermina seems doomed to end up engaging again with the man she rejects “at the age of eighteen (Márquez 282)”. Indeed she does meet him again when “he [reiterates] his love for her, while the flowers for her dead husband [are] still perfuming the house (Márquez 282)”. Fermina suffers the loss of her husband; without time to properly grieve him, Florentino appears. In this way, the lack of control women hold over their own lives is illustrated.
Indeed, throughout the entirety of the novel, Florentino continually manifests his misogyny in the sexual mistreatment of women. He conducts numerous sexual affairs with many women while absent from Fermina’s company; yet, when he is in her presence again for the first time in a long while, he tells her that he is a virgin. Through this lie, Florentino reveals the symbolic importance of virginity; a virgin is pure, and a virginal woman is a woman of worth. This lack of sexual experience in females is also shown through Florentino’s long-enduring relationship with América, which he enjoys largely because of the “mild pleasure of [her] innocence (Márquez 272)”. The relationship between the two ends after she has encounters with him many times, destroying her purity many times.
Perhaps one of the most unforgivable points of the novel from a feminist perspective is Florentino’s inappropriately intimate relationship with the teenaged América Vicuña, “entrusted by her family to Florentino Ariza as her guardian and recognized blood relative (Márquez 272)”. América arrives at Florentino’s abode at the age of twelve, “still a child in every size of the word (Márquez 272)”. Ignoring her prepubescent age, Florentino, the man trusted by her family to protect and guide the girl, begins a sexual relationship, which today would meet the legal criteria for statutory rape and other crimes, with her. to In a way sinisterly similar to the grooming of a victim by a child molestor, Florentino “[cultivates] her during a slow year of Saturdays at the circus, Sundays in the park with ice cream, childish late afternoons, and [wins] her confidence (Márquez 272)”. After having done so, “he [leads] her by the hand, with the gentle astuteness of a kind grandfather, towards his secret slaughterhouse (Márquez 272)”. The slaughterhouse analogy ends up to be all too accurate;. After being introduced to the sexual act by Florentino, “the doors of heaven [open] up to América”, and she enjoys their illicit encounters as a pig would enjoy the feed that fattens it; after being eventually spurned by Florentino, who “never [imagines] how much she [loves] him”, she commits suicide (Márquez 316). At the beginning of América’s relationship with the predatorial Florentino, she had been an exceptional academic student and “a girl ready to learn about life (Márquez 272)”. The end of their encounter leaves her so despondent that before her final suicidal act, she “almost [fails] her final examinations (Márquez 316)”. After learning of América’s suicide via letter, Florentino continues with his pursuit of another woman, paying little heed to the life he introduced to sex before casually turning away from her. In so many ways, América, who “bears a resemblance that was more than casual” to Fermina Daza, was simply a stand-in for Florentino’s ultimate romantic goal, bound to be cast away in favor of Fermina (Márquez 272). América demonstrates the plight of the oft-ignored survivors of sexual abuse, doomed to go unheard, while the abusers roam free to do exactly as they like without any repercussions. América also serves as a literal symbol of the double standard that accompanies sexual appeal and feminine youth, which is desired by men but also used as a weapon, as seen through the sex-based insults at use today; this double standard can end in the literal or metaphorical death of those that are at the center of it.
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